SECRETS of Relaxing

First, the big news. The Kindle edition of SECRETS OF HONOR is on sale this week only for 99 cents. Feel free to share this scoop with your friends! Also feel free to zip over to Amazon and get your copy here:

Second, this is the last week to enter the contest on my website for a signed copy of one of Bish Denham's books. Just click the big WIN button right over here ---> to enter. New contest begins on February 1.

And now, on to today's post. Thriller writer Colby Marshall is back talking about relaxation. Get a cup of whatever-keeps-you-going, read Colby's post and the blurb of her new book COLOR BLIND, leave a comment, enter to win Bish's book, and go buy yourself a copy of SECRETS OF HONOR!

1/27/15 UPDATE: Colby just posted this in the comments section:
Also, just in case anyone's interested, I just got 2 Advance Reading Copies of my newest thriller coming out in April--DOUBLE VISION--in the mail, and I'm giving them away on twitter this week. If you'd like to enter to win, stop by my twitter @ColbyMarshall and Retweet my tweet about the giveaway or tweet @colbymarshall using the hashtag #ReadinColor. I'll be drawing those Friday. :-)

By: Colby Marshall
            Last Monday was magical.  The theatre production of CATS I directed was in the midst of a few days off between performances, and I had a very productive day.  I wrote 2,139 words on the third, in-progress book of the Dr. Jenna Ramey series (my usual daily goal is 1,000), and I accomplished a few research and outlining goals, too.  I’d finished work and…other work…and was off work for my other job for a couple of nights with nothing left to do but just sit back and rela—
Uh-oh.  I had forgotten an important part of this equation: I don’t know how to relax.

For example, my vacations are the cherry on top the ice cream that is my day-to-day working life. Finally, an entire week when nothing is needed or expected of me, when the kids are entertained and there’s no house, car, or second job to keep up with. It’s the perfect time to get some work done!

A week’s vacation is good for writing about half a novel. The beach might shine golden in the sunlight outside the hotel, and I can always be found in my chair enjoying exceptionally cool Florida air conditioning, computer on my lap, typing away. At the end of the vacation I look up and realize it’s over.

It’s not just me. According to a 2013 study from Expedia, Americans are given the fewest vacation days each year compared to other developed nations, and we allow ourselves even less. It’s both sad and ironic that in a job where I can technically set my own hours, I do it too.

Though I have to admit it’s oddly satisfying. I’m so dependent on the satisfaction of accomplishing a goal that nothing else quite compares. But somehow it all works out, at least for now. Business trips to New York City can become supplemental vacations for me and my husband. My husband is also deeply involved in my writing process, reading along and editing as I go, so it’s not like we have to be separate.

Maybe there’s an easy explanation somewhere of why our compulsion to overwork is a thing. Who knows. Suffice to say it’s a fact of our society we’ve all come to live with and accept. And looking back, I don’t regret it at this point.

The key, I think, is to find what we want to realistically do for a living and then actually make it happen. After all, we have to earn a living somehow, and if so many of us are going to end up overworking anyway, we’d better make damn sure that thing we’re devoting so much blood and sweat to really does make us happy when we accomplish it.

That’s probably why I haven’t been driven crazy(er). Even though “Fiction Writer” is about as prudent a career goal as “Singer-Songwriter”, at least every time a small goal gets accomplished, the satisfaction energizes me to keep going. Then that satisfaction shines through in my interaction with my husband and kids. I can’t imagine where my home life would be if I devoted the same time and effort into something that made me miserable.

And surely it won’t go on forever. Eventually there’s got to be a threshold we cross. On the mystical other side are structured, manageable work days capped by hours of spending time with the kids, long conversations with our spouses, Christmas shopping months in advance, and the ability to set all monthly bills to auto-draft from our bank accounts (seriously, I know some people who can actually do that!). That’s a dream worth working toward.

What’s your experience in balancing work/life?

Expedia link:

A neurological condition characterized by automatic, involuntary sensory perceptions triggered by seemingly unrelated stimuli.

There is something unusual about Dr. Jenna Ramey’s brain, a rare perceptual quirk that punctuates her experiences with flashes of color. They are hard to explain: red can mean anger, or love, or strength. But she can use these spontaneous mental associations, understand and interpret them enough to help her read people and situations in ways others cannot. As an FBI forensic psychiatrist, she used it to profile and catch criminals. Years ago, she used it to save her own family from her charming, sociopathic mother.

Now, the FBI has detained a mass murderer and called for Jenna’s help. Upon interrogation she learns that, behind bars or not, he holds the power to harm more innocents and is obsessed with gaining power over Jenna herself. He has a partner still on the loose. And Jenna’s unique mind, with its strange and subtle perceptions, may be all that can prevent a terrifying reality.

Writer by day, ballroom dancer and choreographer by night, Colby has a tendency to turn every hobby she has into a job, thus ensuring that she is a perpetual workaholic.  In addition to her 9,502 jobs, she is a proud member of International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime.  She is actively involved in local theatres as a choreographer and occasionally indulges her prima donna side by taking the stage as an actress.  She lives in Georgia with her family, three mutts, and an array of cats that, if she were a bit older, would qualify her immediately for crazy cat lady status.  Colby's debut thriller, Chain of Command, and the second book in her McKenzie McClendon series, The Trade, are now available, as well as the first book in her FBI profiler series featuring Dr. Jenna Ramey, Color Blind (Penguin/Berkley, 2014).  The next in the Dr. Jenna Ramey series, Double Vision, is due out from Penguin/Berkley April 7, 2015, but is available for pre-order now! 

Find out more:

@colbymarshall on
Available on Amazon here: or anywhere books are sold!

Get SECRETS OF HONOR for 99cents here!


Liza said…
Balance is hard, but it's a lot easier when we love the things we are balancing!
I balance it with guitar playing, but since I'm in a band, I guess that would qualify as work as well.
Congratulations on the new book, Colby.
L. Diane Wolfe said…
relaxing? What on earth is that? My husband says I don't know how to relax and I think he's right.
It's crazy why we almost have to be forced to take vacation time. The European countries think we're crazy (and we are). Germany gets 6 weeks of vacation per year (basically every job there does) and their productivity is off-the-charts. Why can't we do that??
Bish Denham said…
I'm in a perpetually relaxed state. I gave up stress because it's hazardous to my health. :)

Your mission, Carol, should you choose to accept it is to pick up an award on my blog. As always, should you be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.
cleemckenzie said…
I have to schedule to get those breaks in. When I do relax, I find I'm more creative afterward.

Congrats to Colby on her book.
Rachna Chhabria said…
I listen to music to relax or workout. Love your book cover, Carol. Congratulations on the new book, Colby.
Balancing writing/work life is hard, especially since it's hard in this day and age to be a published author full time and make enough money to support yourself and your family. Having fun hobbies, having good friends, and drinking all help keep me centered.
Loni Townsend said…
I balance by not getting...*yawn*...sleep. :) Thankfully my husband is there to wrangle away the kids when I'm ready to pull my hair out. He really is my support rope. I'd probably crumple into a crying heap without him. And when he's not around, I drink a Red Bull. Or two.
Julie Flanders said…
Congratulations, Colby! Nice to meet you. And best of luck with your sale, Carol. I will share about it now. :)
Carol Kilgore said…
Oooh, a mission! I'll zip right over, Bish. Thank you.

Thanks, Rachna. I love it, too ♥

Loni, my own Live-In Handyman is a big support for me, too.

Thank, Julie! Much appreciated :)

Jemi Fraser said…
If you love your job, it's not really work at all - even though it is! I've been lucky to have jobs I love as well :)
colbymarshall said…
Liza- It's definitely easier for me because I love what I do. If it wasn't something I love doing it wouldn't work as well, but that said, my love of it probably does contribute some to how much I work. It's a toss up!

Alex- thanks! Your guitar playing sounds much like my "hobby" of dance--which I turned into a job!

L. Dianne- Maybe we should start a support group!

Optimistic--I was reading about Europe and vacation time before writing this and saw France has a mandatory 30 days vacation. I was thinking of moving there ;-)

Bish--How did you quit? Did you use a patch or go cold turkey?
Balance? Queue hysterical laughter. Even though I am no longer a member of the paid workforce I wobble my way through life with no grace, little style and very uncertain balance.
Thank you - and as usual drat you Carol for introducing me to yet another talented author.
And thank you Colby. Love the sound of your series, even if I do feel inadequate against all your achievements.
colbymarshall said…
cleemckenzie--thank you! Maybe that's what I need. Scheduled relaxing!

Thank you, Rachna!

A Beer--drinking is an important part of relaxation ;-)

Loni- I'm with you on the husband part. I don't know what I'd do without him to take over for me here and there.

Thank you, Julie!

Carol- Thank you so much for having me today! Congrats on your newest book!

Jemi- for me, writing is the work that isn't work. Editing is my work that's always work ;-)
colbymarshall said…
Elephant's- thank you! My kids are 1 and 2 1/2, so needless to say, I'm with you in that wobbling through without much grace arena. But hey, we do the best we can, and that's enough most of the time I think. :-)
Anonymous said…
I love Colby's cover. I have a hard time relaxing. I'm always itching to do something. I bring some writing material with me on trips. I also read a lot.

I bought Secrets of Honor.
colbymarshall said…
Medeia- thanks so much for the cover compliment. I have loved what the art department did with both the Dr. Jenna books' covers. My best friend loved the colors of the next one enough she is using it as the color palate to redecorate her apartment, haha :-) What's your favorite genre for relaxation reading?
Carol Kilgore said…
EC - My pleasure!

Thanks, Colby.

Medeia - Cool! Thank you :)
dolorah said…
I am always striving for that balance. But when things are good in one area, it does tend to bleed into other areas. Week long vacations drive me nuts because I have so many things I want to accomplish.

What does it mean to relax?
colbymarshall said…
Dolorah- I have that same thought process much of the time. I want to do so many things that I'm frustrated if I use time not working towards those things! I figure relaxing, for me, would be the difference between not feeling like I HAVE to be doing something or need to be versus really wanting to for enjoyment? It's hard to put a definition to isn't it?
Lexa Cain said…
Colby is so busy and so prolific - I'm floored. Wishing her much success!
Helena said…
Colby, I'm so jealous you're a ballroom dancer! Me, I don't have much balance in my life since I just seem to be working all the time. But I still make time to read, and your book sounds like it should go on my to-read list.

Carol - I just got a copy of Secrets of Honor in the mail (I'm a hard copy kinda lady). Looking foward to reading it!
Stephen Tremp said…
It's fun to see what other gifts a writer has. Ballroom dancing is not one of mine.

Best wishes to Colby and Color Blind!
Jo-Anne Meadows said…
Balance is something I have struggles with on and off most of my life
colbymarshall said…
Lexa- thanks so very much!

Helena- ballroom is a passion of mine, but I've become even more interested in it since my son was born with a brain abnormality and there's much research on ballroom dancing promoting brain health. It's definitely seemed like fate had planned to have me as a dancer because one day I'd have a son who might use it, too ;-) I hope you enjoy the book if you get a chance to pick it up! Thank you!

Thank you, Stephen! Maybe one day you'll give ballroom a whirl ;-)

Jo-Anne- I sometimes wonder if there's a true thing as far as balance goes because it seems so impossible. I'll let you guys know if I find it one day!

Shelley Munro said…
I know that since starting to write full time, I work harder than I did in my office job. I do a lot of multi-tasking and my brain seems to live in my current WIP. I'm always thinking about it.

We really do need to relax a bit more and enjoy life. It's so short.
Carol Kilgore said…
I have trouble balancing parts of my life, too. Sometimes it goes really well, but then it all falls apart and it takes time to make it all come together again for what is usually a short time.

Helena - Yay! Thank you! Enjoy :)

Shelley - The same for me, except for the multi-tasking. Although I do, I'm much better seeing one task through to completion before beginning another. I love the times that is possible. Life is short.
I am such a Monica Geller (from Friends) I am so bad at relaxing!!! But I do try and find the balance and for me, reading is my relaxation. Once I read I feel rejuvenated :)
Gina Stoneheart said…
I wish you the best of luck with your book beings that it is on sale, Carol! I will send out some tweets for you=)
The only time I relax is on vacation. Other than that, most of my free time is spent on social media, author visits and writing. Hopefully if I ever get to quit the day job, I can relax a bit more!
Arlee Bird said…
Best wishes to Colby! I never thought too much about balancing work and relaxation, I just did whatever I needed to do. Now that I'm not working an actual job I get a lot of relaxing in my schedule. Too much sometimes.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out
colbymarshall said…
Shelley- that's me. My mind is always at least one foot in my WIP!

Carol, I am good at seeing short tasks through one at the time. Large tasks, not so much!

Beth Ellyn- reading is relaxing for me, too, assuming I make sure to carve out some time for it. Since my writing career has gotten some momentum it seems harder to get really "into" whatever I'm reading, but when I do, it's the perfect relaxation!

Gina that's me--my free time is on social media and blogs and such, so still kind of work even if it's not. Though this blog is lots of fun, since I'm having a great time getting to chat with you all!

Arlee, that's awesome. Teach me the secrets!

Also, just in case anyone's interested, I just got 2 Advance Reading Copies of my newest thriller coming out in April--DOUBLE VISION--in the mail, and I'm giving them away on twitter this week. If you'd like to enter to win, stop by my twitter @ColbyMarshall and Retweet my tweet about the giveaway or tweet @colbymarshall using the hashtag #ReadinColor. I'll be drawing those Friday. :-)
Carol Kilgore said…
Thanks, Gina! Much appreciated :)

Colby, I'm going to paste your comment into the post above so there's two places for readers to see it.
Relaxing? My hubby always says that when we die, we'll relax FOREVER.
But I really need some relaxation time...

Congrats to Colby, the story sounds REALLY good! I love the idea of synesthesia and the way it's incorporated into the story sounds so interesting...

And Carol, I snagged my copy of Secrets Of Honor and I've already entered your delightful monthly contest!
Stephanie Faris said…
Great guest post! I tend to overwork as a writer, too. It's easy to do when you're doing something you love. But writing feels relaxing to me.
M Pax said…
I don't really know how to take a day off either. Today is my Sunday and I'm blogging and will do some reformatting later. I know how to live it up.

Congrats to Colby!
LD Masterson said…
I'm already a fan of Colby *waves* so I'll be adding Color Blind to my TBR pile.

I traded 'paid job and writing' for 'grandkids and writing' so there still isn't much relaxing going on.
I'm impressed with your wonderful juggling skills! Congrats on your new book, Colby! I'm also excited about your special Kindle offer, Carol!

Got my copy and shared on Facebook!

I love to write, so it never feels like work. I have to sort of keep myself in check. I mean, I'd probably happily stop all other hobbies to get to write a bunch or words.
Liz Blocker said…
Congrats, Colby! The excerpt is great!
I wish I was that productive during a vacation. I'm lucky if I get in 1K. But that's because my kids are around, and we're busy.
Christine Rains said…
Congrats to Colby! I have trouble relaxing most of the time. So much to do and so little time!
Eeeeps! I just realized I bought "Chain of Command" when it first came out, and still haven't read it! (Books have a way of getting "lost" when ya keep buying more and more of them for the Kindle.) Now, this new book sounds like a must-read, too. I've read a couple neuro-psychology books about synesthesia, and think it's a fascinating phenomenon.

colbymarshall said…
Thanks for that, Carol!

Michelle, thank you! I'm starting to think writers need a national writing holiday called Writer Relaxation Day!

Stephanie- writing definitely can be relaxing to me at times. On deadlines less, but when I'm not deadline-ing it's definitely relaxing and fun!

M Pax- if you ever find a How To guide on living it up, pass it along!

LD- *waves* So good to see you! And thank you :-)

colbymarshall said…
Thank you, Empty Nest!

Elizabeth- I hope you enjoy it! Thank you!

Liza- thank you! Glad you liked it.

Stina- My kiddos are definitely keeping me busy (2.5 yrs. and 1 yr), but thankfully we're still in the "multiple naps" phase. ;-)

Christine- I think I need a bumper sticker that says So much to do and so little time!

Susan- Haha! Well, thank you for that! I hope you love both books! :-)
Denise Covey said…
Australian teachers get 10 weeks holiday a year, but half of that is spent working on the curriculum. Unfortunately when we get 6 weeks in a row at Christmas, it's far too hot to write unless you keep the air con going all day!

Reaching goals is very satisfying all the same.
I can't relax either, Colby. You're sure not alone! Americans work too hard. Many developed countries also don't work 40 hours a week, either. Relax, America!
Nas said…
Congratulations on the new book, Colby.
Carol Kilgore said…
Thanks to all of you for stopping by. Colby gave us all lots to think about.
DMS said…
I do love to go on vacation- so relaxing to get away. Since I can't get away as often as I would like I find balance by going out and spending time in nature and I love to draw. :)
Carol Kilgore said…
Good for you, Jess. I don't go on vacation as often as I'd like, either.